Friday, May 18, 2012

Visit(s) to Maltrata

I was going to write about my weekend visit to Maltrata... and then realized I never wrote about my April visit...and then blogger wouldn't upload my photos correctly.... and then it go to be the end of semester...  So lets continue with the past few months' theme of "better late than never", shall we?

April visit:

In Mexico, being the Catholic country that it is, Spring Break is always during Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter Sunday). Most of the elementary/middle/high schools have two weeks of break, extending into the following week, though as an UNAM student I only had the week off.  I spent the week in Maltrata in what turned out to be a mixture of work and play, combining follow-up for my thesis with visits and outings.

I was welcomed back to Maltrata with beautiful flowers and a welcome note in "my" room. (I've stayed with the same family during what have now been four visits)

The flowers and note ("Welcome Rebe") waiting for
me in "my" room

I enjoyed spending time with "my Maltrata family"...

with Mama Juanita and Rosa Maria

... and especially the littlest ones. The little guy that was born the same day I arrived in December is getting so big!

Look how big he's getting! 

Big bro helping little bro with his shoe
playing at the park
playing at the park

my little buddy

with Spider Man =)

I went for a walk one morning and there were some beautiful views!

view of Orizaba Peak during my walk

view of Maltrata from a distance 
view of Orizaba Peak through an old train car
We went to Orizaba one afternoon for lunch. Afterward we wandered around downtown and visited The 500 Steps. We did not attempt walking down and back up them all -- just enough to enjoy the view and watch people zip-line over the canyon. 

King of the Backseat (until 3 other people needed
to join him as well) 

500 Steps in Orizaba 

500 Steps in Orizaba

500 Steps in Orizaba

500 Steps in Orizaba

500 Steps in Orizaba

As for the Easter celebrations, I saw and/or was told about various traditions which were new to me, though since I'm not Catholic and this was my first Easter in Mexico (I visited the US last year), I can't be sure what was specific to Maltrata, Mexico and/or the Catholic faith.  

In the US, the emphasis of the week is on Easter Sunday, especially considering the cultural part of family gatherings, Easter egg hunts, etc. In Maltrata it seemed that each day had its traditions, without the added emphasis on Sunday. Here's what I heard/saw during the week (please excuse any potential errors or misinterpretations):

On Palm Sunday (Domingo de las Palmas), there's a mass in the Chapel to bless the palms and then a procession to the Church, including children dressed in white with crowns on their heads. The people were carrying their palms, most woven in different designs, including some that incorporated flowers.

There were lots of stands set up in the downtown park selling food and sweets. Some were the regular stands I’d seen before set up on Sundays in Maltrata, but others reminded me of stands you see at the fairs.

On Monday, a group of men go to a town in the mountains close to Orizaba Peak to gather olive branches. They gather some but also exchange with the people that live there, trading food for branches.

There was a class/camp Monday through Wednesday for adolescents ages 15 and up. When they finished, they were greeted by their family with flowers. There was apparently a similar program for younger kids Monday through Thursday, but held in a town outside of Maltrata.

Wednesday through Friday (or Saturday?) people don’t eat meat, so it’s common to eat fish or other seafood. 

On Thursday there's a mass where the Priest washes everyone’s feet, like Jesus did at the Last Supper. (And maybe something about blessing bread??). We had mojarras (a type of fish) for lunch that day. 

On Good Friday is the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross??). People go around Maltrata in a procession, stopping at stations. There was a ton of people!! I didn’t know until that morning that the house where I was staying was one of the stations. The procession leaves from the church. It was lead by a truck with a loudspeaker and people walking alongside it with a microphone, singing. There was a large figure of Jesus and another of the Virgin Mary. The procession ends at the church and is followed by Las 7 Palabras ("the 7 words"… Maybe The Celebration of the Passion?  The Liturgy of the Word? Not really sure).

Station (at the house) on Good Friday

Afterward the family (including extended family) prepared lunch: shrimp and a seafood soup. And in not Easter-related events, we spent the rest of the day together, including a game of soccer and baseball (I’m so much better at baseball than soccer!) and a birthday celebration. If anything, Friday reminded me the most of Easter back home, in terms of the family gather, focus on food, etc. 

seafood soup 

playing baseball

Friday night there's another procession around town, but this time everyone is silent – no prayers, singing, or talking – and everyone carries a candle. There are people in the church throughout the night, much like they would do for a velorio (wake).

Saturday is a day of mourning. That night there’s mass that celebrates Jesus’ resurrection, which was described to me with the phrase “abre la gloria.” It’s a tradition that Saturday night and Sunday (though during Holy Week in general), people "get wet," whether in the fountain in the downtown park or going to the beach, lagoon, river, pool, etc. Someone told me that in the past, everyone got everyone else wet (I’m imagining a huge water fight), but now they don’t anymore because of water shortages.

On Easter Sunday there's mass first in the Chapel and later on the Sports Field. (My only guess as to why it’s not in the Church is because it’s too small, though the Chapel is even smaller). No family gatherings or Easter Egg Hunts. I was able to skype briefly with my family though =) 

May visit:

I went back to Maltrata the first weekend in May to celebrate my little buddy's birthday! It was a quick trip -- arriving Friday night and leaving again Sunday afternoon -- but I enjoyed celebrating with my favorite two-year-old. 

Happy birthday, Axel! 

little brother 

love them so much!  

playing with his new blocks 
Since I was there on Cinco de Mayo, I went to the parade, which was made up of elementary through high school-aged kids dancing, doing gymnastics, making human pyramids (apparently a staple in gym classes here?), etc. I was even pulled out to dance in the parade briefly by one of the "cousins"! After that I quickly made my rounds to say hello (so as not to be yelled at if they saw the güerita in the parade and I didn't even stop by to visit!). 
(Note: Cinco de Mayo is not Independence Day or a drinking holiday. For last year's post click here)

As I was packing my bag up on Sunday, my little buddy asked me if I was going back to work -- that's where they tell him I am when I'm not in Maltrata. I have lots of work at the moment since I'm finishing  up the semester and working on my thesis -- but hopefully my next visit to Maltrata won't be too far in the future!  

1 comment:

  1. They sound so sweet. It must be nice to have a family away from your family. :)